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Going retro

I think our generation… by which I mean…

Ah. Now you see – lately, when I come to think, or write something, I can get all tied up in knots because I now insist on categorising the concept in quite tight terms before I move into rant or pondering mode. Teaching has taught me that it is no good whatsoever assuming everybody knows what I am on about, I have to first check understanding, and clarify meaning.

Today, in class, we were talking about Power. I had to clarify that I was talking about power in a personal sense, rather than power in a professional or status sense, although there is that power too. We then moved on, all starting from the same page, hopefully… This evening I realised I had not written A Thing all week. This is a disaster on many levels, but you’ll be glad to hear I won’t define and categorise the substrates now; after all you may only have landed here by accident, expecting nice retro images or something, rather than a rather abstract meander about the Wittgenstein proposition that:

Actually, I don’t believe it, and, in the end, neither did Wittgenstein. There are many more fundamental ways to communicate than through words because, yes, they do limit us, it’s just that, just as we get caught up in thoughts, so we get caught up in words – expressing ourselves through language. We forget that there are other ways to express our feelings and intentions – our heart, soul too, if you believe in one.

This post was to talk all about how my generation has had a lot of techno gizmo work fast fast fast stuff to get on top of in our lifetimes, and my peers, like me feel that we may have reached a tipping point in our heads… that point where we say, you know, perhaps I don’t have to stay on top of all this now. Perhaps I can’t keep on top of it all now. Perhaps… there’s more to life than being able to interface with all kinds of technology in ever-efficient ways. Maybe, maybe it would be better for our wellbeing to just let some of it go.

So what if I can’t manage my Twitter timeline or feed properly. Heck, I don’t even know the difference between the two terms, or if there is one. And, the truth is, I don’t think I care. Not that much.

Maybe it really is time to go retro, just a little, at least at weekends, and let the world whizz by, if it wants.

Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent – Wittgenstein

Losing my grip

I can feel, for perhaps the second time in my life, that the technology is slipping away from me. I think my generation,  and that of my parents, even one of my grandparents who lives on and emails into her nineties, are the only groups who will have this sensation regarding digital technology…

My children are digital natives: electrickery is just an extension of their senses. Their cognition embodies not only their digits,  but tapping keyboards and wielding a stylus and swiping and clicking and all manner of things that would make you seem unutterably afflicted in the 1970s, when I grew up.

Back then when the phone rang, the world stopped;  it was A Phone Call and to be treated seriously.  Oh, just remember the telephone, with its challenging spiralling coil joining the giant receiver to the dialling part (funny how we didn’t call it a speaker receiver once the two functions were melded into one gross plastic curve).  Now nearly all my calls go to voice mail and I tap out this post on a screen keyboard from my phone – which is a world first for me and a painfully slow one at that. 

I was looking for the monstrous beast that is my phone in my bag this week.  ‘Oh I’m just looking for my camera, ‘ I muttered. I am confused now by the multiplicity of the new technologies.  I don’t understand the ‘apps’, I have one for drawing (I still can’t draw) ), I have one that plays the guitar (I still can’t play the guitar). I mean who wants to be able to strum tunelessly on the phone at bedtime? Just because?

In the 80s my father bought four of us kids a Spectrum computer to share: I was not impressed.  It was something to do with its purpose – I couldn’t work out what it was for.  A few years later I went to work, learned a basic word processing programme and a smattering of DOS language and got on with the job.  From time to time  I would be sent somewhere highly regressive (the NHS, a metal merchants, a marketing department) and be given a typewriter as my tool to work with. Correcting an error or changing the ribbon on one of these dinosaurs always caused me more stress than remembering to save or back up a document.

Technology was good. Technology was god? Just now though,  with this new-fangled phablet I lug about, I feel out of sync, like I did when the ZX Spectrum rocked up. I know it can do Stuff, but I am baffled by the purpose of most of it. Still,  it’s early days. Someone might try to make me carry one of the old style dog and bones round the streets; I am sure that would concentrate my mind as quickly as the sight of an antiquated typewriter and a ream of foolscap used to. I still count my blessings, but I know I am on the cusp of Out of Touch.

N.b. I have tapped out this whole damn shizzle on a smartphone touchscreen with a stylus pen.  The screen is greezy, the tapping slow. I cannot do pictures.

Never again? 

I have had to hop on the old reliable laptop and put in a picture – I don’t know much, but a blog is not a blog in my blog if there ain’t no picture. And I see that posting from the phablet gives me formatting code that I just don’t like the look of…

Cool Barcodes

I grew up with sticky labels and then barcodes. They weren’t actual relations, but near.  When my father started his own barcode business Codeway (the one remaining limited company of the triptych),  his new hobby (did you have an old one Dad?!) was standing in the kitchen of a weekend scanning the supermarket purchases with his scanners. That was in the days when you weren’t guaranteed to have a barcode sticker on everything.

Recently it dawned on me: my father has been trying to fix around half the world’s problems with barcodes for more than half my lifetime. From the NHS Blood Service to British Airways the little black stripes and spaces in between – that’s spaces not white stripes – have been saving lives and flying planes safely for years.

Well done Dad, and could you make a printer to do some pretty ones like this for Christmas please?